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VoIP phone systems introduction

VoIP Phone Systems Buyer's Guide

VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) represents the latest in phone system technology. With it, you can make phone calls over a computer network instead of traditional phone lines.

Commentators have said that VoIP has been "coming soon" since the first PC-to-PC telephony applications appeared in 1995 - and it looks like it may have finally arrived. In recent years the audio quality has improved drastically, the technology has become cheaper, and businesses are finally showing an interest.

Worldwide revenues for IP PBXs (the heart of a VoIP phone system) were approximately 8.4 billion in 2008. Many industry players predict that more than half of all phone traffic worldwide will soon be IP-based.

There are two basic types of VoIP. In its most straightforward form, VoIP requires a normal phone, an adaptor, a broadband Internet service, and a subscription to a VoIP service. When you place a call, it goes over the Internet as data until it nears the recipient's destination. Then the VoIP service translates the call back into a more traditional format, and it completes the trip over standard phone lines. Also known as Internet telephony, this provides extremely cheap long distance and international calls.

This Buyer's Guide, however, addresses VoIP phone systems - equipment installed at your business that routes internal calls over your computer network. With VoIP, you can link multiple offices on a single phone system. No matter how remote the locations, a VoIP phone system can completely eliminate long distance calling charges between them. However, it does not replace your existing phone service to the outside world.

VoIP phone systems can work for the smallest offices and the largest enterprises. In fact, IP PBXs will probably replace traditional PBX phone systems as prices fall and reliability improves, which helps explain why so many IP PBX manufacturers are familiar telecom heavyweights.

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